After starting their first four games of the NorWOSSA 'A' regular season on the road, the Rainy River Owls' junior and senior boys' volleyball teams are looking forward to playing in the friendly confines of RRHS once again.
Both squads will play their remaining four games at home—and both coaches are hopeful it will pay dividends.
“We haven't played a home game yet so the kids are excited to get some fan support at home,” junior head coach Corey Smith said.
Playing at home will be a nice treat for the juniors, especially after winning both of their matches last week against the host Red Lake Rams and St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora).
The squad had started the season by dropping its first two matches but rebounded in a big way with a pair of 3-0 sweeps against the Rams last Wednesday before doing the same to the Saints on Thursday to even their record at 2-2.
“We finally started to come together as a team,” Smith said about last week's road wins.
“Everyone understood the rotation and we looked like a completely different team out there.”
The Owls were slated to host the Rams today and Smith had some areas in mind that his squad would be working on to keep improving.
“There is always room for improvement,” he conceded.
“We need to continue to work on being where we need to be on the court," he noted. "We will be working on positioning on the court and fine-tuning our skills.”
As for the senior Owls (3-1), they saw mixed results last week in their matches against the host Rams and Saints.
They swept Red Lake in straight sets (25-16, 25-16, and 25-9) on Wednesday in what was their third-straight win to open the season.
But the next day, RRHS was on the receiving end of a straight-sets loss to the host Saints (14-25, 24-26, and 19-25).
“Unfortunately, we lost one of our power hitters to an injury, and had to redo our entire offence and defence the day before the trip,” Owls' head coach Guy Arpin said.
“We scrambled well early and quickly got to know our new positions and serve receive,” he noted.
“We served well and our attack—for the most part—is definitely becoming more effective.”
Arpin felt as though his squad's serve pass could have been better last week but also is hopeful it will continue to improve.
“Hopefully we can continue to progress,” he remarked.
“Our goal is to secure a playoff position. After that point, anything can happen.”
The seniors also will end the regular season with four-straight home matches—the first coming today versus Red Lake.
Arpin feels as though the friendly confines of RRHS will bode well for his players' performance and health in the second half of the season.
“Most definitely,” he replied when asked if he thought ending the regular season with four-straight home matches would be an advantage for his players.
“The road trips are long and hard on the players,” he noted.
“With a 3-1 record so far, I am very pleased with our position.”
In terms of what his squad would be working on ahead of today's match against the Rams, Aprin said offence would be a point of emphasis.
“Fine-tuning our offence, as always,” he remarked.
[Working on] serve pass, and playing with consistency and intensity."